The Basics!

Life Practices – Overview

Introduction

We all know, human beings are truly individual and unique. There is no one way for us to follow. Some folks live lives with no sense of direction, and are content, happy and peaceful. Some folks struggle with purpose, and search for a way to resolve these issues. Some struggle with deep inner pain, while others find simple ways of being happy.

In my experience with people of different backgrounds, beliefs and preferences, each person is “on their own” in their life, to find whatever they are looking for… if they are in fact looking for anything.

But there are many folks who are anxiously seeking something stable to hold onto in their life. This is borne out by the numberless clubs, churches, synagogues and groups we join. We are looking for a sense of belonging, in something which gives some sense of security. Security does seem to be rank a basic importance in the list of needs. (see Maslow’s heirarchy of needs – https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html)

If a person does not have this sense of struggle (we have all known some folks like this) , then they will not likely look for, find, and follow an “inner” or “spiritual” path.

Each person obviously has the right to live their life the way they wish.

Any outdated concepts of an ” God overlord”, with expectations of humankind, have been long seen as something manmade … if my meaning is clear. On the other hand, our mindset taken from our parents, who expect things of us, and who punish or reward us for our actions, is clearly set as a pattern very early in our lives.Then we pin it on a manmade God…. who looks very much like our parents. Seems quite obvious…..

And it is no wonder that all of us make at least SOME bad decisions in, ….. but then to call those bad decisions “sin”, and to say that this “sinfulness” was visited on us by a God who was angry with the “first man and woman” for not doing as he told them to do…. well, that story is so obviously a take-off from our own family stories.

Firstly, a person is born, without their own approval, into a family which is not of their choosing, into a time and place which was not asked for, into circumstances which they had no control of. They live at least the first few years of their life, without a proper understanding necessary to make any “decisions” about the direction their life is taking. So with so few decisions made by the individual, how could there possibly be a judgement made on the fact that this person was born as a “sinful human being”? As many have said before me, I would rather rot in hell than live my life for that sort of despot.

There is no “one way and only one way” sense in mysticism. This is truly a individual journey.

If you are a person who is interested in finding a direction, I am going to present one direction which has worked for me, though most has come to be by trial and error.

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The Ten Ox-herding Pictures

I have found personally, that the 10 Ox-Herding pictures very much portray the spiritual path followed by folks who realize they are lacking something.

Affirming Faith in Mind

Affirming Faith in Mind, chanted by the Rochester & Toronto Zen Centers, has been a road map to me, showing in its statements, clues which happen along the way to awakening.

http://www.torontozen.org/chants_sutras.html#AF

Zazen

Zazen has played an instrumental part in my meditation practices since I was in my early 20’s….. so 40 some years now. Unfortunately, most of those years have been spent without either a Sangha to be with, or a teacher to help me along my way. On the other hand, my stubbornness may have caused a lot of anguish in that type of relationship….. (said with a shrug) ….. But there have been good books presenting the way, the pro’s and con’s, out there for many years now.

The basic rules of sitting zazen are very much worthwhile, in that they promote good posture, and a method of fully relaxing the bodies muscle structure, and being supported by the bone structure of the back. This allows natural breathing, without any pressure being placed on the internal organs. Sitting in any cross legged posture may be difficult, and if not possible, sitting seiza, or on a chair as noted, does work.

In the Treeleaf online Sangha, with Zen Master Jundo Cohen Roshi, teaches Shikantaza, which is a particular form of zazen, and there is information elsewhere in these webpages which discusses that.

Here is a simple example of proper Soto Zen zazen rules.
https://www.lionsroar.com/how-to-practice-zazen/

Chanting

Notes to follow

Kinhin

Notes to follow

The Prodigal Son

– as every humans story…..

Notes to follow

 

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